PNE searching for Mr Right

Greg Cunningham is consoled by Ali Al Habsi after missing a chance
Greg Cunningham is consoled by Ali Al Habsi after missing a chance
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Preston’s focus on the hunt for a new right-back has been sharpened by an injury to skipper Tom Clarke.

He limped out of the 1-0 loss at Reading with a hamstring strain, reducing the options on that side of the pitch.

The search was already on after Calum Woods was ruled out for the season with knee ligament damage.

On Saturday, PNE started with Liam Grimshaw at right wing-back.

With him struggling in that role, Simon Grayson substituted Grimshaw at the interval and switched to a 4-4-2 with Clarke moving from centre-half to right-back.

Later when Clarke came off, Chris Humphrey filled in at right-back.

“It looks like Tom has tweaked his hamstring, which is not a good sign on the first day of the season,” said North End boss Grayson.

“We knew that we needed a right-back and with Tom injured, it looks like we need a right-back who can play centre-half as well.

“The injury will be assessed over the next couple of days, we’ll see where we are with it.

“If someone is coming off with such an injury on a Saturday, it will certainly rule him out for tomorrow and probably this weekend too.

“Hopefully it is nothing too serious but he’ll have it assessed properly.

“When you look at the squad, we have some good options up front, and we are quite strong in midfield.

“But defensively we need some more cover.

“We are waiting for the right option, we won’t just take anyone just for the sake of doing something.

“We might have to wait for other clubs, especially those in the Premier League, to make sure their squads are covered before they let people out.”

Grayson confirmed that Anton Ferdinand has been training with PNE in recent days but not with a view to signing.

The 31-year-old defender is a free agent, having been released by Reading.

Said Grayson: “Anton has been training with us for 10 days or so, his agent asked me if he could come in to get some fitness work into him.

“He had been doing a bit of running down south but he wanted some football work.

“I’m good friends with his agent so I said I would help him out.

“It doesn’t mean to say there is anything in it, this is just for fitness reasons and nothing beyond that.”

Grayson was disappointed with PNE’s display at Reading, the first half especially.

Simon Makienok and Ben Pearson were missing from the squad, Makienok with a slight thigh strain and Pearson because he was ill.

Said Grayson: “We learned from every game we played last season and we will do that again this time.

“We know we have to do a lot better – there were times on Saturday when we didn’t do things well as a team.

“Now we have got to get ready to play Hartlepool tomorrow night.”